Facebook assault further tarnishes Chicago – USA TODAY
Four people have been charged with hate crimes and other felonies in connection with a Facebook Live video. The video, which has since been taken down, appears to show the torture and taunting of a white special needs man.
USA TODAY NETWORK
CHICAGO â Already facing unwanted scrutiny over aÂ soaring murder rate and a civil rights investigation of its police department, ChicagoÂ again is receiving unwelcome attention after anÂ 18-year-old special-needs student was viciously assaulted in an attack streamed live on Facebook.
The four African-American suspects charged with hate crimes and other felonies for allegedly beating, torturing and humiliating a white acquaintance were all ordered to be held without bail Friday afternoon.
Prosecutors said that two of the suspects ordered the victim, who suffered from mental health problems, to say “I love black people” and “f— Trump.” The suspects also repeatedly beat the teen and two of the suspects shoved his head into a toilet and made him drink from it, prosecutors said
âWhere was your sense of decency,â asked Cook County Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil before rejecting the suspects plea for a reasonable bail.
The mayor and police superintendent of the nationâs third-largest city quickly denounced the disturbing assault.Â The nearly 30-minute videoÂ exploded on social mediaÂ Wednesday.
“Let me be very clear, the actions in that video are reprehensible,” Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. “That, along with racism, have absolutely no place in the city of Chicago. Or anywhere else for that matter.” Meanwhile, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the actions in the videoÂ “sickening.â
The controversy comesÂ following a bloody year in which Chicago hasÂ faced nationwide media attention for a surging murder rate, and as the police department struggled to restore trust in the city’s African-American community amidÂ a U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigation of the agency’s patterns and practices.
The city tallied 762 murders and more than 4,300 shooting victims in 2016, more than New York and Los Angeles combined. Earlier this week, Trump took to Twitter to say if Emanuel canât solve the endemic violence â a level the city has not seen in nearly 20 years â then âhe must ask for Federal help.â
Some law enforcement analysts suggest the rise in violence may be due in part to the cityâs officers becoming more cautious following the court-ordered release in late 2015 of a police video showing a white officer fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald on a city street.
The officer in the incident, Jason Van Dyke, fired 16 shots at the black teen and was charged with murder on the day of the videoâs release, which set off weeks of protests in the city and lead to the Justice Department’s civil rights investigation.
Johnson and Emanuel, meanwhile, have blamed the spike in violence on a rise in gang activity and gun laws that they say donât do enough to deter convicted felons from arming themselves.
Police stops and arrests declined following the department agreeing last year to implement new measures to head off litigation from the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the department was disproportionately targeting black men for questioning.
âThe police activity is horrific. Honestly. And there, and there’s not an excuse that could be made in my book,â former police superintendent Garry McCarthy told CBS 60 Minutes.Â âThe noncompliance of the law is becoming legitimized. And the police are on their heels. … Weâre reaching a state of lawlessness.â
After the video of the beating and torture of the special-needs student went viral, conservative radio host Glenn Beck appeared to blame activists with Black Lives Matter, a nationwide movement that has protested police treatment of African-Americans.
âStand up with me and demand justice in Chicago for the beating of a disabled trump supporter by BLM,â Beck wrote on Twitter. Police said they did not know if the victim was a Trump backer, and have not indicated the suspects were Black Lives Matter activists.
On Thursday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich blamed Obama and his former attorney general, Eric Holder, for a âdramatic rise in racial tension.â
âI think a lot of their language, a lot of their approach heightened that sense of racial tension,â he said during an interview on Fox & Friends. âAnd I think we have to oppose white racism, but we also have to oppose black racism.â
In a series of interviews with Chicago TV stations Thursday, President Obama called the attack âdespicable.â He also suggested racial incidents get more attention now “in part because we see visuals of racial tensions, violence and so forth because of smartphones and the Internet.”
The Cook County prosecutors office charged Jordan Hill, 18, of Carpentersville, Ill., along with Tesfaye Cooper, 18; Brittany Covington, 18; and Tanishia Covington, 24, all of Chicago, with aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and residential burglary in the alleged torture and kidnapping of the special-needs teen.Â
Hill also was charged with robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
Authorities said the victim was a classmate of Hill and the pair spent a day and night driving around Chicago in a stolen van before ending up at an apartment, where two sisters, Brittany and Tanishia Covington, lived. The victimâs parents reported him missing Monday evening, two days after last hearing from him, when they dropped him at a McDonald’s in suburban Streamwood.
Hill allegedly tied up the victim and with the other suspects began a methodical, five-hour assault on him Tuesday after driving him to an apartment on the city’s West Side. The assailants kicked and punched the victim, forced him to drink toilet water and appeared to carveÂ into his head with a knife. At one point, in the midst of the assault, Hill allegedly contacted the victim’s mother and demanded a $300 ransom in exchange for her son.
“They (the female suspects) got aggravated with him, and that is when he was tied up, and the racial slurs … started coming out,” police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said.
Police said a downstairs neighbor threatened to report the suspects over the noise. The suspects, angered by the threat, went downstairs and allegedly kicked in the neighbor’s door, giving the victim a chance to escape. The neighbors managed to escape to another apartment in the building and call 911 for help.
The bloodied and battered victim was spotted by police Tuesday afternoon walking along a sidewalk in cold weather wearing only sandals, shorts and a tank top turned inside out and backward.
The victim has since beenÂ reunited with his family.
“He’s doing well, as well as he could be at this time,” the victimâs brother-in-law David Boyd told reporters. “We appreciate all the support from everyone.”
A GoFundMe account to assist the victim has been launched.